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Spring 2024 Seminar

The Law of Climate Adaptation

Prerequisite: None

Exam Type: No Exam

Extreme effects of climate change are piling up on the US coasts in the form of rising groundwater, saltwater intrusion, ever-heavier rainstorms, powerful hurricanes, and rapidly accelerating sea level rise. Although the climate is morphing quickly, US legal structures are slow to change. We will study legal doctrines that affect ex ante adaptation efforts in the context of US coastlines, where about 40 percent of the US population lives and about half the nation’s GDP is generated. Our inquiry will include discussion about the many angles of takings doctrine that will likely be triggered by local government attempts to protect or abandon territory, common-law nuisance issues implicated by property-owner self-help, the strength of any necessity defense mounted by local governments, and the many issues raised by strategic relocation. 30-40 page paper required.